Ellen Addelson Hansen
On Monday, November 11, 2019, Ellen Hansen, loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend; dedicated and difference-making citizen, and quintessential Seattleite, passed away suddenly at the age of 73.
Ellen was born on July 26, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois to Arthur and Mae Addelson. She grew up on Long Island, New York and studied English Literature at Barnard College while falling in love with Steve Hansen, a Columbia University student from Vashon Island. Steve and Ellen married in 1966 (celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2016) and Ellen completed her B.A. and graduate studies at the University of Washington. They raised daughter Jennifer and Ellen embarked on a prominent career in public and community service. Fiercely intelligent, strong, and generous, Ellen threw her whole self into everything she did. Highlights of her distinguished career include key roles in Charles Royer's Seattle Mayoral campaigns and administrations, in which she served as Senior Advisor and Manager. As Records and Elections Manager for King County, she produced King County's first election manual and led statewide efforts to enhance the enfranchisement of voters and modernize the election process, including recommendations for vote-by-mail and same-day voter registration. As Director of Public Affairs for King 5 Television, she developed the national Peabody Award winning public service campaign Project Home Team focusing on issues affecting the working poor.
Ellen's leadership and belief in community and public service were reflected in the dozens of boards, foundations, steering, and executive committees she chaired or served on including the Group Health Foundation; Northwest Aids Foundation Fundraising Executive Committee; I Have a Dream Foundation.
In 1976, Ellen, Steve, and Jenny, while sailing Lake Union one afternoon on their small catamaran, fell in love with the floating home on Eastlake that would be their safe harbor for the rest of her life. When the Mariners arrived in 1977, family and baseball became inextricably linked. Ellen, Steve, Jenny and eventually Ellen's grandchildren and friends spent countless pleasant summer afternoons at the ballpark. A true to the blue Seattleite. Playfulness permeated the Hansen home as did a love of Winnie the Pooh. Around the house, Ellen was also known as "Kanga," Steve "Poohbear," and Jenny "Piglet." So it was only natural that when Jenny left for college, and Ellen and Steve adopted her four-legged sibling Shih-tzu, they would name him "Roo." And thus began Ellen's love affair with the Shih-tzu branch of the family which would grow to include Arlo, Lilly, and Daisy. Ellen was extremely proud of her grandsons, Theo and Nate, and loved spending weekend afternoons with Theo, solving crossword puzzles. Ellen was a loving, loyal, generous, stubborn, strong, smart, silly, playful, greatly beloved, unique, irreplaceable presence.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Arthur and Mae. She is survived by her husband Steve, daughter Jennifer and son-in-law Scott, grandsons Theo and Nate, sisters MaryAnn Brye and identical twin Elizabeth Gage, and her beloved shih tzus Lilly and Daisy.
Donations in her name may be made to the following organizations: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Northwest Harvest, Common Purpose. May her memory be a blessing.
Published in The Seattle Times on Nov. 24, 2019.